The Spring Township Fire Company classroom came alive when more than thirty of our membership came to hear a presentation by representatives of The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).
After a brief business meeting at which the Nominating Committee’s report for next years officers was given, Commodore Hoffman introduced CBF’s senior naturalist John Page Williams of Annapolis and its Pennsylvania Agricultural representative Lamont Garber of Lancaster. Williams, an avid fisherman and history buff, has been with CBF for 37 years. He is also a writer and former editor for Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Garber, also an outdoorsman, has been with CBF for 25 years, acts as liaison with Pennsylvania’s farm community in development and implementation of CBF’s efforts to improve the quality of Our Bay.
Garber, using PowerPoint, showed us the extent of “Our Bay’s” drainage basin and made the point by showing us a satellite image of the Susquehanna and Chesapeake after the recent drenching from Tropical Storm Lee . We were given a summary of the results of CBF’s most recent “State of the Bay’ report. The present “health index” of the Bay is only 31, with 100 representing the status of the waters when the settlers arrived in the 17th century. Garber noted that the success of CBF’s efforts to reduce agricultural pollution depended on the passage of a strong farm bill by Congress. He got many of our members in the audience to contact Senator Casey in support of an appropriate farm bill.
But both speakers emphasized that farm runoff was not the only source of Bay pollution. Fishing practices, municipal sewage, and automobile exhaust condensate, among others, have a very important influence on the health of the Bay. The natural gas boom and the “fraking “ of the Marcellus shale, if unregulated, are certain to have significant negative impact in the future.
John Page, with his lilting Tidewater Virginia accent, acquainted us with the natural history of the Bay, emphasizing that it was really just an extension of the Susquehanna River. He urged us to become familiar with The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, of which he has traveled virtually every mile. (http://www.smithtrail.net/) He described how the trail was near us no matter where we were on the Bay and that it can be explored in small segments, accessible to both bigger boats and the trailerable.
We were told that CBF is not in favor or regulating pleasure boat grey water discharge, nor are they in favor of increased alcohol content in marine fuels.
In all, it was a very informative and entertaining meeting, and I believe we all came away with a greater appreciation of CBF’s role as well as our own roles in assuring the future health of Our Bay.